Lesson 42: Continuing Revelation to Latter-day Prophets

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (1999), 243–48


Purpose

To show class members that the Lord continues to guide the Church through revelation to latter-day prophets, seers, and revelators.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the following scriptures and other materials:

    1. a.

      Doctrine and Covenants 1:38; 68:1–4; 84:109–10; 107:25, 34, 93–98; 132:8.

    2. b.

      Official Declaration 2 (pages 293–94 in the Doctrine and Covenants).

    3. c.

      Our Heritage, pages 117–19, 125–27.

  2. 2.

    Review the material for this lesson in the Class Member Study Guide (35686). Plan ways to refer to the material during the lesson.

  3. 3.

    Ask class members to prepare to summarize the following information from Our Heritage:

    1. a.

      The information on Church correlation (last paragraph on page 117 through the end of page 118).

    2. b.

      The account of the revelation extending the blessings of the priesthood to every worthy male member of the Church (pages 125–27).

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

Tell the following story, which was shared by President Harold B. Lee:

“Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Council of the Twelve once told of a discussion he had with a group of stake officers. In the course of the discussion someone said to him, ‘Brother Widtsoe, how long has it been since the Church received a revelation?’ Brother Widtsoe rubbed his chin thoughtfully and said in reply, ‘Oh, probably since last Thursday’” (Stand Ye in Holy Places [1974], 132–33).

President Spencer W. Kimball declared that the Church continues to be guided by revelation:

“We testify to the world that revelation continues and that the vaults and files of the Church contain these revelations which come month to month and day to day. We testify also that there is, since 1830 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, and will continue to be, so long as time shall last, a prophet, recognized of God and his people, who will continue to interpret the mind and will of the Lord. …

“Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication. I say, in the deepest of humility, but also by the power and force of a burning testimony in my soul, that from the prophet of the Restoration to the prophet of our own year, the communication line is unbroken, the authority is continuous, a light, brilliant and penetrating, continues to shine. The sound of the voice of the Lord is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal. For nearly a century and a half there has been no interruption” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1977, 115; or Ensign, May 1977, 78).

Emphasize that President Kimball’s statement continues to be true today. The heavens are open, and the Lord continues to reveal His will to latter-day prophets.

Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the lesson materials that will best meet class members’ needs. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the principles you discuss.

Read D&C 1:38 and D&C 68:1–4 with class members. Emphasize that the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are latter-day prophets, seers, and revelators. They continue to receive revelation to guide the Church. Their direction is “the will of the Lord, … the mind of the Lord, … the word of the Lord, … the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation” (D&C 68:4). Explain that this lesson discusses a few examples of continuing revelation to guide the Church.

1. Church correlation

Ask the assigned class member to summarize the information on Church correlation from Our Heritage, beginning with the last paragraph on page 117 and including all of page 118. Emphasize that Church correlation was initiated and continues to operate today by revelation from the Lord to His prophets.

Explain that the purpose of Church correlation is to preserve “the right way of God” (Jacob 7:7). Ultimately it is intended to help accomplish the mission of the Church, which is to invite all people to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32; see also D&C 20:59).

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve oversee correlation in the Church. Correlation includes:

  1. a.

    Maintaining purity of doctrine.

  2. b.

    Emphasizing the importance of the family and the home.

  3. c.

    Placing all the work of the Church under priesthood direction.

  4. d.

    Establishing proper relationships among the organizations of the Church.

  5. e.

    Achieving unity and order in the Church.

  6. f.

    Ensuring simplicity of Church programs and materials.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve said that correlation is a process “in which we take all the programs of the Church, bring them to one focal point, wrap them in one package, operate them as one program, involve all members of the Church in the operation—and do it all under priesthood direction” (Let Every Man Learn His Duty [pamphlet, 1976], 2).

Use the following material to discuss how the Church’s correlation efforts bless our lives. Write the headings on the chalkboard as you discuss them.

Importance of the family

The correlation effort has emphasized the importance of the family in many ways. One is the establishment of the family home evening program. Parents are to hold a weekly family home evening to teach and strengthen their families. Monday evenings are reserved for family home evening throughout the Church and should be kept free from Church meetings and activities.

  • How has family home evening influenced your life? What have you done to make family home evenings successful?

The correlation effort has also emphasized the importance of the family by clarifying the role of the organizations, programs, and activities of the Church in relation to the family. The Church Handbook of Instructions states:

“The most important place for gospel teaching and leadership is in the family and the home (see Mosiah 4:14–15; D&C 68:25–28). … Quorums, auxiliaries, programs, and activities in the Church should strengthen and support the family. They should enhance gospel-centered family activities, not compete with them” (Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders [1998], 299).

  • Why is it important to understand that Church auxiliaries, programs, and activities exist to support the family? How have Church organizations and activities strengthened you and your family?

The correlation effort also emphasizes that Church programs and activities should not make unnecessary demands on the effort, time, or other resources of Church members.

Operation of Church auxiliaries

One important role of correlation is to unify and coordinate the auxiliary organizations of the Church—the Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, Primary, and Sunday School. For many years these organizations were somewhat independent. At the general Church level, some had their own magazines, funding, and conferences. As they grew, they became increasingly complex and often had unnecessary duplication in their programs and materials.

Through the process of correlation, such complexity and duplication have been reduced. Through correlation, there has also been an emphasis on auxiliary organizations functioning under the direction of priesthood leaders. For example, in a ward these organizations all function under the direction of the bishopric.

  • Why is it important to unify and coordinate the efforts of the auxiliary organizations in the ward? How have you seen these organizations be able to work more effectively by coordinating their efforts?

Preparation of Church publications

Explain that Church publications, such as lesson manuals and Church magazines, are produced to help members learn and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. The correlation process helps ensure that these materials are scripture-based, doctrinally accurate, and appropriate for the intended audience. All Church publications are planned, prepared, reviewed, and implemented under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

One result of correlation in Church publications is that adult and youth Gospel Doctrine classes and most Primary classes study the same book of scripture during the year. This can encourage and facilitate discussion of the scriptures in the home.

  • How can lessons taught at church support parents’ efforts to teach their children at home?

Home teaching

Read D&C 20:53–55 with class members. Explain that home visits by priesthood holders have been part of the Church since the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith. As part of the correlation effort, these visits were reemphasized in the 1960s and called home teaching. Home teaching continues to be a vital responsibility of teachers, priests, and Melchizedek Priesthood holders.

  • What are the purposes of home teaching? What experiences have shown you the importance of home teaching?

To conclude your discussion on Church correlation, read D&C 84:109–10 and D&C 132:8 with class members.

  • In what ways does Church correlation help us fulfill these words?

  • What can we do individually and in our Church callings to apply the principles of Church correlation?

2. Revelation extending the blessings of the priesthood to every worthy male member of the Church

Explain that in June 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball announced a revelation that extended the blessings of the priesthood to every worthy male member of the Church. Ask the assigned class member to summarize the account of this revelation from Our Heritage, pages 125–27.

  • Read Official Declaration 2 with class members. How has this revelation been a blessing to the Church?

  • What can we learn from the process President Kimball went through before receiving this revelation? (See Our Heritage, page 126.)

3. Publication of new Latter-day Saint editions of the scriptures

Explain that in 1979, after years of careful work under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, the Church published a Latter-day Saint edition of the Bible. This edition of the Bible has the same text as the King James Version, but it includes special study aids, such as the Topical Guide, the Bible Dictionary, and footnotes referring to passages in other books of scripture and to excerpts from Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible.

In 1981, the Church published a new edition of the triple combination (the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price in a single volume), with expanded footnotes and index entries.

  • Read Ezekiel 37:15–19 with class members. Explain that “the stick of Judah” is the Bible and “the stick of Ephraim” is the Book of Mormon. How do the new editions of the scriptures help the Bible and Book of Mormon become “one in [your] hand”?

    Explain that many footnotes in the Bible refer to scriptures in the Book of Mormon, and many footnotes in the Book of Mormon refer to scriptures in the Bible. Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve observed: “The stick or record of Judah—the Old Testament and the New Testament—and the stick or record of Ephraim—the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ—are now woven together in such a way that as you pore over one you are drawn to the other; as you learn from one you are enlightened by the other. They are indeed one in our hands” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 75; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 53).

Take a few minutes to show class members the study aids in the Latter-day Saint editions of the scriptures (you may want to use the second additional teaching idea). Then ask the following questions:

  • In what ways have you used the study aids in the scriptures? How have these resources helped you in your scripture study? In what ways do you think the Church has been blessed because of the Latter-day Saint editions of the scriptures?

    Soon after these scriptures were printed, Elder Boyd K. Packer prophesied: “With the passing of years, these scriptures will produce successive generations of faithful Christians who know the Lord Jesus Christ and are disposed to obey His will. … The revelations will be opened to them as to no other [generation] in the history of the world. Into their hands now are placed the sticks of Joseph and of Judah. They will develop a gospel scholarship beyond that which their forebears could achieve. They will have the testimony that Jesus is the Christ and be competent to proclaim Him and to defend Him” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 75; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 53).

    In the April 1995 general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley made an observation that shows that Elder Packer’s words are being fulfilled: “I look back to my own youth. Neither young men nor young women were doing much scripture reading at that time. What a marvelous change has been wrought. A new generation is arising who are familiar with the word of the Lord” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 117; or Ensign, May 1995, 87).

4. Additional Quorums of the Seventy

Explain that as the Church has grown, the Lord has revealed how general Church administration should change to meet the needs of members all over the world. These changes have been especially evident in the organization of additional Quorums of the Seventy.

  • Read D&C 107:25, 34 with class members. What are the responsibilities of the Seventy?

Explain that for many years there were only seven General Authorities of the Church who served as Seventies. They made up the First Council of the Seventy. In 1975, others were called; they served in the First Quorum of the Seventy. Further expansion came in 1989, when a Second Quorum of the Seventy was added.

In April 1995, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the calling of new local officers, called Area Authorities, who would serve for a period of about six years. (See Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 71–72; or Ensign, May 1995, 52.)

In 1997, President Hinckley announced that Area Authorities would be ordained Seventies and would form the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Quorums of the Seventy. Unlike Seventies who serve as General Authorities, Area Authority Seventies serve in the areas in which they live and continue in their present employment. (See Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 4–5; or Ensign, May 1997, 5–6.)

  • Read D&C 107:93–97 with class members. How does creation of additional Quorums of the Seventy comply with the instructions in this revelation?

  • How do you think the calling of Area Authority Seventies will help the Church as it grows?

    Concerning the creation of additional Quorums of the Seventy, President Hinckley said: “With these respective quorums in place, we have established a pattern under which the Church may grow to any size with an organization of Area Presidencies and Area Authority Seventies, chosen and working across the world according to need. Now, the Lord is watching over His kingdom. He is inspiring its leadership to care for its ever growing membership” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 5; or Ensign, May 1997, 6).

Conclusion

If you did not use the attention activity, read the statement by President Spencer W. Kimball on pages 243–44. Give particular attention to President Kimball’s testimony that “the sound of the voice of the Lord [to His prophets] is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal.” Express your gratitude for the Lord’s guidance through latter-day prophets.

As prompted by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.

Additional Teaching Ideas

You may want to use one or both of the following ideas to supplement the suggested lesson outline.

1. “Revelation on Priesthood” video presentation

If Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video Presentations (53912) is available, consider showing “Revelation on Priesthood,” a seven-minute segment, during the second section of the lesson.

2. Activity to encourage the use of the Topical Guide

Use the following activity to help class members use the Topical Guide:

Ask class members to close their scriptures. Then ask them to list from memory as many scripture references as they can about two or three different gospel subjects that have extensive listings in the Topical Guide. For example, you could ask them to list references about humility, obedience, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. When they cannot list any more references, have them find the same subjects in the Topical Guide. Read a few of the scriptures listed under those subjects.

After you have completed this activity, have class members turn to pages 240–58 of the Topical Guide to see the many listings about the Savior. As they examine these references, you may want to share a statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve. He referred to those pages as “the most comprehensive compilation of scriptural references on the subject of Jesus Christ that has ever been assembled in the history of the world” (“The Peaceable Followers of Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 1998, 64).